Chisenhall and Kipnis Could Have Similar Roles In New Tribe Lineup
By Mike Brandyberry
They are very much alike and in 2013, their roles in the Cleveland Indians’ lineup could also be very similar.
Despite taking different roads in their career over the last couple years, Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis look to each take their game to the next level. Their increased offensive production could result in the Indians lineup becoming a better offensive unit.
Kipnis, a left-handed hitting, 26-year old selected in the second round of the 2009 draft has converted from an outfielder to a second baseman. After making his debut in late July 2011, he became a regular in 2012, hitting .257, with 14 home runs, 76 runs batted in and 31 stolen bases. Kipnis was nearly an All-Star after a great first half of the season.
It appeared Kipnis hit a wall in July and never recovered during his second half. His numbers dropped steadily, possibly in part to never having a day off in the first half of the season. Kipnis only missed two starts in the first half of the season, playing nearly every day. The grind of the season, plus some nagging injuries seemed to wear down Kipnis’ season.
Meanwhile, Chisenhall, a left-handed hitting, 24-year old selected in the first round of the 2008 draft has converted from shortstop to third base. After making his debut in late June 2011, he has not had the chance to become a regular. Chisenhall seemed to have been finding his place with the Tribe last June before he was hit on the wrist and forced to miss most of the second half of the season. He did manage to hit five home runs and 16 runs batted in, in only 151 plate appearances in 2012.
After two seasons of fighting Jack Hannahan for playing time and roster positions, Chisenhall seems to have a strangle-hold on a roster spot for 2013. Hannahan was not offered arbitration and has since signed as a free agent in Cincinnati. This season will be Chisenhall’s to prove his place and value on the Tribe.
But in 2013, the expectations for both should rise. Kipnis could easily use his speed to hit at the top of the order, either leadoff or in the second spot behind Michael Brantley and in front of Asdrubal Cabrera. If his power increases, along with his speed, he makes a key member of the top of the order and provides depth for Cabrera, Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana to hit in the middle of the order.
Chisenhall, on the other hand, could also provide depth to the Tribe lineup by hitting behind the middle of the order. When projecting the Indians’ lineup, many have concern with Swisher, Santana and Mark Reynolds together in the lineup. With Chisenhall’s potential to hit 18-22 home runs in a full, healthy season—just like Kipnis—he could provide a nice break among the strike out heavy hitters and push Reynolds to the seventh spot in the lineup.
Despite different roads, Kipnis and Chisenhall have many similarities in their offensive game. They may each find themselves providing protection and depth to the middle of the lineup—one at the top and the other at the bottom.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images